by Angie Brennan   |   Winter 2016

One morning I was walking down the hall at school and approached a couple of kindergartners waiting in line to use the restroom.



One little girl was sniffling sadly. I asked her what was wrong. “She hit me,” was the reply. I turned to the accused. “Did you?” The other kindergartner nodded, a defiant look on her face. I asked her why. She pointed to her classmate. “Because she told me I had to face forward and have a happy heart!”


No doubt about it, producing joy on command can be difficult. We may even be tempted to punch someone. And yet the scriptures are full of such commands: Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice,” (Phil. 4:4); “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,” (Rom. 12:12); “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (I Thess. 5:16-18). Indeed, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, listed right after love.

Our desire as classical Christian educators should be to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness in an atmosphere of joy. This can take many forms…cheerfully greeting students while heading down the hall toward the copier; loving our subjects in front of our students; encouraging kindness and consideration in the classroom; in the midst of the inevitable hurt feelings and friction that comes with life amongst our fellow sinners, reminding students of the joy of being forgiven—and of offering forgiveness; and, most of all, pointing to Christ as the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, and joy.

We can encourage joy in math by delighting in the fact that God has created the world to be both orderly and puzzling. It is the glory of kings to search out a matter. We can rejoice in history by recognizing that ultimately the heart of every king (and Civil War general, and medieval serf, and Renaissance painter, and U.S. presidential hopeful…) is in His hand. We can rejoice in language, knowing that Jesus is the Word and that He communicates to us through His Word.

Encouraging joy doesn’t mean we are trying to fill every moment with fun. It may be a challenge to pass those multiplication timed tests or shave seconds off the mile run in P.E. or parse a passage from Virgil—or even to face forward and wait patiently in line. But if our faces are turned toward the Lord Jesus Christ, He will be faithful to fill our hearts and minds with true and everlasting joy. ACCS_graphic_sm1

Angie Brennan teaches Latin and music at Rockbridge Academy, Millersville, MD.